September 3, 2003

Krich '04, Udall Recipient

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Cornell is full of outstanding students, but Abigail Krich ’04 stands out from the crowd; she has been honored as a 2003-2004 Morris K. Udall scholar as a result of her long term commitment to environmental issues and academic scholarship.

An environmental engineer and biology major at Cornell from Lexington, MA, Krich’s current passion is integrating renewable energy into the mainstream, which might include creating buildings that are more environmentally friendly. “I definitely have a focus on environmental technology and renewable energy,” Krich said.

The Morris K. Udall Foundation was established by Congress in 1992 in honor of Congressman Morris K. Udall and his outstanding history of public service. Each year the foundation awards up to $5,000 toward tuition, books, fees, room and board to eighty sophomores and juniors from around the country. These students must either be Native American or Alaska Native students committed to health care and tribal public policy or must show a significant commitment to environmental careers. The students selected were required to attend an orientation weekend in Tucson, Ariz., this past August.

Over the course of the weekend, a variety of leaders in environmental fields, including two of Udall’s descendants, who are now members of Congress, spoke to the scholars. “They just seemed like they had so much integrity,” Krich said. “I was impressed that there was a lot of bipartisan work.”

“Abigail Krich is an outstanding individual with the potential to shape the field of environmental engineering and green design, as demonstrated through her academic achievements at Cornell, creative vision, thoughtful practice and the tireless passion that drove Mo [Udall] throughout his career. We are proud to have her as a Udall scholar,” said Kristin Kelling, program manager at the Udall Foundation.

Before Krich was eligible to apply for the Udall Scholarship, she had to be approved by a Cornell endorsement committee. This committee narrowed the possible applicants down to six students who could then apply for the scholarship.

Beth Fiori, fellowship coordinator at career services, was one of the individuals on the committee.

“People have to show a really strong commitment to environmental work,” she said. “[Krich] is very focused on alternative energy sources … She’s got the coursework … She’s been an activist and a leader.”

Krich’s involvement as president of Kyoto Now! and her attendance at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development as a Greenpeace youth delegate are only two among a list of outstanding commitments to environmental issues.

“I had never considered applying to a fellowship before this … my focus has been on extracurriculars [more than] academics,” Krich said.

Fiori said she had high hopes for Krich’s application. “That’s a real flame in her,” she said.

Although she has always had an interest in environmental affairs, finding a major to suit her interests was not as simple. Krich entered Cornell through the College of Arts and Sciences, but later transferred to the College of Engineering when she realized what she wanted to do. “Something just clicked,” she said after she took a course on renewable energy systems. In fact, she wanted more, and has been encouraging the university to offer more courses related to the field, which they have begun to do.

“I’d consider her one of the foremost environmental leaders,” Kelling said. “She’s going places.”

Archived article by Stephanie Baritz